In August of 1994, a group of local baseball enthusiasts didn’t want to see a great summer of Little League Baseball end. It was a year that showcased some great Medford talent. Even with the great talent, the city had four leagues back then and the stars were all dispersed amongst them. They couldn’t help but wonder how good this team would have been if all four teams combined their talents. The group turned to the four leagues and they all agreed to the plan. The next challenge for organizers was to get someone to play against. He was able to recruit teams from Somerville, Melrose, and Malden for a quick weekend tournament. Medford won that abbreviated tournament, but you couldn’t help but wonder that there was more to come. That was the humble beginnings of the Medford Invitational Tournament.
Sixteen years later, the MIT staff is getting ready the biggest and best tournament ever. The bigger part is easy. The better part is the MIT’s commitment to making each year more competitive and more fun. “We have added a lot of new twists and surprises to this year’s fun,” claims MIT VP, Kevin Chin.
Two weeks ago, the MIT held its’ annual Coach’s meeting. It gives the coaches a chance to meet their competition and allows the MIT staff to review their expectations for the tournament. The tournament has now grown to a two week event which involves twelve teams from the greater Boston area. This year the MIT is welcoming Medford, Malden, Wakefield, Charlestown, Billerica, Newton, Saugus, Tewksbury, Melrose, and Somerville to participate. Many of these teams are returning for their fourteenth or fifteenth time.
The Medford Invitational Tournaments is not affiliated in any way with the Medford entry in the tournament. The MIT office reportedly receives requests daily on how to apply to be on the team. “The process for us is simple,” claims MIT president Ron Giovino. “We invite each community and it is up to them to pick the team,” Giovino said. “There is some confusion that we (MIT) are involved in the selection process and nothing could be further from the truth. We don’t want to get involved in an incredibly political scenario. If parents would like to know more about the Medford selection process they should go to there Little League president for the answer,” Giovino concluded.
This year promises to be a very competitive tournament. Over the fifteen year history, Medford has won more championships more than any other entry. Home Field advantage? No one is sure. The team with the longest stay without a win is the fourteen championship less years for Newton East. Maybe this is their year.
What makes this tournament special is the MIT’s commitment to having fun. Doesn’t matter what is going on the field, if it is time to play their signature “YMCA” then the game stops and everyone dances. Over the history of the tournament, the MIT has proven that competition and fun can coexist on the same playing field. Where else could you see a championship game stopped and the infielders put down their gloves to join in the fun? That’s sportsmanship! Of course, none of this great fun would be possible
without the dedication of so many volunteers. The host for the tournament is Medford National Little League. Led by President Lonnie Hilson, the volunteers are responsible for feeding and entertaining the visiting crowd. Over the next two weeks, they do an incredible job for the tournament.
For the fifth time in their history, the MIT is welcoming Little League Baseball’s Challenger Division to the tournament. The Challenger division is dedicated to young athletes with physical and mental disabilities. This program allows these kids the opportunity to play baseball. Having witnessed this program personally, I can tell you that these kids play baseball the way it as supposed to be played. The commitment these kids have to overcome their challenges and play baseball is truly inspirational. On August 22nd, the MIT will dedicate the day to these athletes as they will play in the tournament side by side with the all-stars. “We are looking forward to this special day,” said MIT recruiter Buzz Colbert. “It is the best part of the whole tournament,” Colbert concluded.
The business community and local leaders have really come out to support this event. “We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for this years tournament,” claims Ron Giovino. “Everyone is calling asking how they can help out. We really appreciate any support as we want to make this tournament a great experience for all the kids,” Giovino said. The MIT ended their very successful winter baseball program two years ago. The clinic provided the revenue stream that supports the expenses of the summer classic. “Given the tough economic times, we weren’t sure we could survive,” explained MIT Prez Ron Giovino. “We are pleased with the response we have received from the Medford and Malden business community.” If you would like to get involved, please visit the MIT website at www.mitbasbeall.com.
If you want to spend a nice night out during the week, stop by Columbus Park and enjoy a hotdog and a slush with us. Just be forewarned that if you enter that park, be prepared to have a great time. Don’t forget your dancing shoes!
– Submitted by Ron Giovino, Medford Invitational Tournament President